Sunday, November 27, 2005 

Fremantle Festival

It's tiring to fly every day. The two guys in my course who are going through the program faster than I am, fly almost every day. I take a bit more rest days than them. Today, as they are soaring in the air, I went to the Fremantle Festival. Or rather the end of the Fremantle Festival. It's a festival dedicated to the arts. A whole week of various activities in Fremantle, kite flying, music in the streets, art exhibits, independent films, and dancing. The closing event was a Banghra themed atmosphere along the whole of Cappucino Strip. Indian DJs mixed some Bollywood music with techno and house beats. People dressed in bright colors dancing here and there along the main road of the Strip. It's akin to an outdoor club. As the sky grew darker, the lights came on. Multicolored hues flashing the waving limbs accordingly to the rythm. I didn't stay for the end. I have an eight a.m. flight and I have to get up at five to prepare for it. The time I was there, was enough for me to de-stress and relax. Maybe I should go dance more often. I'd say a day of not flying to experience local culture is a fair trade.

Watching people dancing
 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 

First Solo Nav

On the twentieth I went for my first solo navigation flight. I went from Jandakot to Bunberry, then to Collie and back. The whole flight was a two hour sortie. Total distance is about two hundred nautical miles. The track that I followed was along side the coast for half of the excursion and the other half was over the Darling Range.

I was a bit nervous as the procedures were still new to me. This first solo sortie is designed so that the cadet wouldn't infringe any airspace if the cadet get's lost and easily get back to Jandakot via the coastal way.

I'm still amazed that through calculations and weather forecasts, we can track almost directly to our destination. When we take winds into account we can't point the plane to where we want it to fly to. We have to point the plane slightly into the wind to counter the forces the wind puts to push the plane off course. To date I've done two solo sorties and in one occasion I had to point the nose 15 degrees off the track.

Four thousand five hundred feet in the sky.

 Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 21, 2005 

One Year

It's been one year since my course first got together. Yesterday was our reunion gathering. We decided to have a barbecue at one of the lakes nearby. Perth government has had the greatest idea to provide public hot plates in their parks. This convenience was fully utlized by us. The meat fest consisted of char su chicken, chillied chicken, chilli sausages, herb and garlic sausages, burgers, lambchops, and a couple more meats with experimental marinade. Veggies was a simple ceasar salad that was finished in a few minutes. Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves with eating, drinking, and feeding ducks with beer soaked bread.

Friday, November 18, 2005 

Navigation Check

It was seven in the morning when I made my way across the street to the college. The sun had been out since five but the day was dark. Clouds covered the sky as far as the horizon. I cursed myself for the luck and hoped that the cloud base was high enough for me to go ahead for my nav check. As soon as I got to Operations, I printed out a forecast. With a sigh of relief I saw that the clouds were at three thousand feet. Just enough for me to squeeze by the hills of the Darling Range. If it happened to be slightly less than that, the flight would be cancelled.

I quickly finished my flight plan. I'll be flying at three thousand all the way. Even into controlled airspace. This sortie would be interesting as I had to fly over Perth Airport and Perth City. With calculations, charts, and flight plan in hand, I went to my instructor and explained the conditions. My instructor, H, looked at the cloudbase and walked out to look at the sky. With a grim look and reminder that if the clouds got any lower we would turn back, he sent me off to prepare the aircraft. Pressure was on my instructor as the airfield we're headed to would have the chief flight instructor, a senior instructor, and my previous instructor doing airwork around the time we should be there. Since I'm the only one going for visual flying, if the conditions wasn't good for visual and we were there, the chief would have his head.

As we were flying through the Darling Range, I had to keep the plane at two thousand nine hundred feet. The clouds were just around three thousand. The great thing with clouds is that the day wasn't hot. The bad thing is that the whole flight was bumpy. To make matters worse, it started to drizzle. Visual was still good, so we pressed on. As soon as I made my inbound call for Cunnerdin, I heard two other company aircrafts radio in at five thousand and seven thousand feet each.
"Ok, can you see where the airfield is?"
Airfields are hard to spot from such a low altitude. I scanned everywhere to look for a flat piece of land. Unfortunately, everywhere is flat! Then I saw it, the cross shaped runways that I was looking for. Exactly in front of me! Quite a mean feat for visual navigation.
"Good, good, now let's do one touch and go and go off before the others get here"
So we quickly landed and took off and departed the airfield with calls from the other planes that they were now decending on to the airfield.

On our way back we went into controlled airspace. It's a cool feeling to go into controlled airspace. Everything is taken care of. I just had to fly what ever instructions they gave me. I got to see a jet take off from Perth International beneath me. I got to see the skyline of Perth. The blue ocean was right in front of me. By this time the clouds were gone and the view was spectacular. That was the first time I flew over Perth. I wish I had brought my camera with me.
As we came back, my instructor commented on how safe the flight was. I think he must have written down safe at least nine times in the report. My radio work could've been better though. I'm still giving unnecessary information. Rather than saying "Estimated time of arrival three four" I should just say "time three four" among other things. Ah well, always learning. With that, he signed my "Clear for Solo Navigation" column in my Student Solo Checklist Card.

Airways Chart. What the big guys use. Not for Visual Flying.
All those lines are airways. This is why pilots need good eyesight!
I think I almost went blind reading this thing for my flight planning exam.
 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 

Another Lazy Day

Today is my off day. Cadets are to take one day off out of a week due to legal reasons. I like flying and the thought of a forced day off wasn't something that I liked. It's not as if flying takes the whole day. That was my opinion until I started navigation. Two days ago I went on a three hour nav flight. Three hours doesn't seem like a long time until you're stuck in a small cockpit with a rather hefty instructor, five thousand feet above the ground, being rocked about by thermals and sea breazes, at thirty three degree temperatures, and without a water bottle.

Halfway through the flight I was starting to feel light headed. Since this is my first flight with this instructor. I struck up a conversation to get to know him better. This alleviated my lightheadedness somewhat. By the time we were on our final leg of the flight, I started having strong urges to just open the window and let cooler air into the plane. Through some miracle I managed to get through the sortie "excellently" as my instructor told me, except for my last landing where I let the nose drop and had a rather shaky landing. After a quick debriefing, I went to the cooler and drank several cups of water. Got into my air conditioned room, set it on high and dropped dead for a few hours. Good thing for off days, managed to get over the dehydration. Unfortunately, I'm not put up for a flight tomorrow.

Lesson learned is to bring water on nav flights.


I never knew that level busting could bring so many problems. Level busting is when you fly higher than the specified height. Airspace has many layers to it. For example the training area nearby is only from the surface to six thousand feet, six to eighteen thousand is generally for military, and eighteen to twenty four is mostly commercial.

Today a small cessna went into control airspace, flew too high and entered the Perth Airport control airspace. Apparently two commercial flights from Perth International had to be delayed as the control tower was trying to contact the person to ask the person's intentions and to turn back. A one thousand kilogramme plane holding back a 777! Imagine that.

Lazy Day

Friday, November 11, 2005 

From the desk of....

The picture up top is my desk. New laptop takes center-stage as I usually have songs playing whenever I'm in the room. The folder to the right is my flight folder, maps are inside and flight plan is outside. Just enough clear space for me to work with. A bottle of water must always be there as it's very easy to get dehydrated while flying.

Tomorrow is another nav flight for me. I guess the instructor change is a blessing. I'm scheduled twice a week for a flight with my instructor. At this rate I might be able to finish this program faster.

Petter Solberg's Subaru WRX STI


Eventful Day

Woken up by course mate because there weren’t enough cadets for gardening duty. Donned on my gardening clothes and went off to pull out weeds from our course garden for a couple of hours. There’s something wrong with Perth. There’re flies everywhere! It’s annoying to have to keep on whisking them away when you’re outside of a building.

Hoards of people in my room. It’s become a thing to play Risk in my room with my roomie as the host. I wouldn’t mind it really, but it’s been going on for a few days now and my room is starting to get messy and smelly. Seriously. I’m going to ban them from playing it in here tomorrow.

Headed out to the viewing point to look at another course mate trying to clear his early solo sortie. Fortunately he also cleared. He was at his last hour to clear under the Assistant Chief Flight Instructor.

Went of to see the WRC Championship in Perth. Drivers were giving out signed posters. Managed to get Peter Solberg of Subaru’s signature and some other goodies from Subaru and Ford. The Special Stage in town is done at a small stadium. The track is your average dirt track with a divider in the middle to separate the cars. Two cars race down the track at the same time. My seat was between the start of a bend and the beginning of one. I got to see the cars enter and exit a drift. Also managed to see a few crashes! The event ended with a twenty minute fireworks show.

Got news from my colleagues that I got changed instructor’s this morning. The administration thought it prudent to put me under a new instructor who needs someone to fly nav flights with. I don’t know why admin couldn’t choose another person from my group. Now I’ve to find someone to take over my job as lead cadet. At least my friends said that my instructor fought with the admin to get me to stay with him. Apparently he said that I’m one of his better pilots. Pro is that I’ll be able to advance faster since my old instructor was bogged with too many cadets. Con is that I’m quite used to my old instructor’s laid back style. Well, as long as I get to fly.

Controlled Burning

Monday, November 07, 2005 

Made It!

As my friends and I sat at the vewing point beside the control tower, cheering on our coursemate going for his first solo, a feeling of hapiness came over me. Our course has a higher chance of getting through this together. Two of my friends managed to clear their sorties today. Now there's only two more who needs to clear their solo checks. This coming November 19th will be a full course reunion.

Crop Circle from 5500 feet.

 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 06, 2005 

Please pray to whatever God you worship

Tomorrow is my day off. My friends and I are going off to the viewing area beside the control tower to cheer our coursemates on. Some are going to send them off to their planes. Tomorrow is the last hour for one guy and last couple of hours for a couple others. We're alotted fifteen hours to reach our first solo, then begins the long road of being switched from one instructor to the other. Each instructor gets three hours to shape us up for solo. After two instructors, we're passed to a senior instructor (SFI). If that doesn't go well, we go up with the chief flight instructor (CFI). One guy is with the CFI and the other two are with SFIs.

At the course meeting, announcements on new operating procedures were given, plans for our course reunion were discussed, and it was ended with our course leader asking us to please pray to our own God that the course goes through intact with everyone reaching captaincy.

Peel Inlet taken during my first Navigation Sortie at 4500 feet


First Nav

On the second of November I went on my first navigation sortie. I had to fly from jandakot to Bunbury, then Collie, and then back to Jandakot. The trip is only two hours long and spans nearly 250 miles. Currently I'm flying only by visual guides so I need to look out for land features when I fly. Before the sortie I had to plan out my route, check the weather, check the winds to adjust my heading so I wont be blown off course. Suprisingly alot of preparation is needed before going off.

The trip started out with me being slightly nervous since I've never flown a nav and this time I had another passenger along. My coursemate was sitting behind me enjoying the view and munching on biscuits as our instructor rattled on with what I need to do.

The scenery is just astounding. Summer hasnt really arrived yet, so the ground is still green and verdant. I've never flown up more than 3500 feet before this (college limit 46 miles from Perth). Going further south, we reached heights of 5500 feet. We passed by town after town. Most towns in Western Australia are really small with only a few buildings that could be seen from this high. The route I planned out basically follows the coastline. The coast is beautiful with the deep blue sea sparkling on my right and the green hills of the Darling Range on my right.

Glad to say the wind forecast was true and I managed to reach mostly all my checkpoints according to the plan. Can't wait to go for more nav sorties. The workload is higher than before, but the sights are worth it.

Bunbury Airfield
First Airfield that I overflew during my First Nav


Flying Colors are Blue and Gold

On 23rd of October 2005, I passed my P-check. It's equivalent to acquiring a Private Pilot's License. In Australia, we can have passengers and travel across the country side as long as we don't do it for profit. Glad to say, it was one of the best flights that I've done up to that point. Everything went well for me, my steep turns were level, my forced landings on the spot. The only thing that I messed up was my short field landing. I've never done a short field before. The purpose is to land and stop as fast as you can. As I was coming in, I was fighting with the heat currents, the plane rocked around but I managed to keep my aimpoint and flight profile. Just above the runway, there was a sudden updraft which caught me unawares, I reduced power, a bit too much, and the next instant, the plane dropped from the sky! Plane, Senior Flight Instructor and I, came down with a big bump and a hop! In my mind I cursed myself for such a lousy landing. While taxying back, he just told me to have proper control of my power next time, everything else was good, so he passed me. Now I need to treat everyone here for dinner as is the tradition for my course.

Cottesloe Beach